Medications to bring when travelling overseas

Learn about medications to bring when travelling overseas and how to pack and store them during travel.

Why should I bring medications when travelling overseas?

  • To provide relief for possible minor illnesses that you may have while travelling
  • To comply with taking your medications that are meant for treating long-term illnesses
  • To protect against certain conditions or diseases which you may get as a result of visiting or performing certain activities in a particular country

What medications should I bring for travel?

For common minor ailments, the medications to bring will depend on the symptoms which you are concerned about. Refer to the table below for a rough guide.

Symptoms to Treat


Possible Products

Fever, Headache, Chills, Body Aches

Paracetamol, Ibuprofen

Paracetamol: various Panadol preparations, Progesic, Decolgen preparations, Tylenol

Ibuprofen: Nurofen, Nurofen Express, Nuromol

Runny Nose

Chlorpheniramine, Cetirizine, Fexofenadine, Loratadine

Cetirizine: Adezio, Zyrtec-R

Loratadine: Clarityn

Fexofenadine: Telfast

Chlorpheniramine: Actavis Chlorpheniramine, Allersin-F, Antamin

Blocked Nose

Pseudoephedrine, Phenylephrine, Oxymetazoline, Xylometazoline

Pseudoephedrine: Pseudorine, Zyrtec-D, Clarityn-D, Telfast-D, De-cold

Phenylephrine: Panadol Cold Relief, Panadol Sinus Max

Oxymetazoline: Iliadin nasal drop, Clariclear nasal spray

Xylometazoline: Otrivin nasal drop/spray



Tussidex Forte, Robitussin DM, Metophan, Dexcophan, Tussils

Sore Throat

Lysozyme, Serratiopeptidase, Benzydamine

Lysozyme: Leftose, Neuflo

Serratiopeptidase: Danzen

Benzydamine: Difflam preparations

Others: Strepsils, Vicks, Mac, Zecuf and honey lozenges


N-acetylcysteine, Ambroxol, Bromhexine, Guaifenesin

N-acetylcysteine: Fluimucil

Ambroxol: Mucosolvan

Bromhexine: Vasican, Mucolix

Guaifenesin: Robitussin EX, Woods, Breacol


Loperamide, Diphenoxylate, Activated Charcoal, Lyophilised Bacteria, Dioctahedral smectite

Loperamide: Imodium

Diphenoxylate: Dhamotil

Activated Charcoal: Ultracarbon, Norit

Lyophilised Bacteria: Lacteol Fort

Dioctahedral smectite: Smecta

Motion Sickness

Dimenhydrinate, Ginger, Cinnarizine

Dimenhydrinate: Novomin

Ginger: Blackmores Stomach Settler

Cinnarizine: Cinna, Cinnaron

Important Notes:

1. The “Symptoms to Treat” list above is not exhaustive. Consult your pharmacist or doctor if you have any other questions.

2. Some products contain a combination of the above medications to treat a few symptoms at the same time e.g. Zyrtec-D helps with both runny and blocked nose; Panadol Cough and Cold may treat fever, headaches, body aches, phlegm and blocked nose; Robitussin DM for cough and phlegm. To avoid taking double the dose of the same medication or taking medication that you do not need, please check the ingredients of all products and speak to a pharmacist to be sure.

3. Some of the “Possible Products” listed above will need to be dispensed by a pharmacist. Approach the pharmacist if you cannot find the products that you are looking for.

For chronic medications (e.g. those for the treatment of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, blood-thinning etc.), you will need to ensure you have enough to last the duration of your trip. You may consider packing twice the amount of chronic medications you need for the trip duration and pack each set in a different bag or luggage. This is in case your luggage is lost or your trip is extended. You may want to ask your doctor or pharmacist to assist you in providing a medication list for you to follow, and check them off as you pack the necessary.

For medications to protect against certain conditions or diseases, consult a pharmacist (e.g. for anti-malarial medications) or doctor (e.g. for anti-malarial medications, high altitude sickness medications for trekking).

How much medication should I bring?

The quantity of medications to bring should be calculated based on the following:

  • How many times a day they should be taken 
  • How many days they should be used to treat the medical condition
  • How long you are travelling for
  • The number of people in your travel group who require them

For medications to treat minor ailments, you can round the quantity up or down according to your preference. Below are some examples to guide you.

1. Symptoms of cold/flu/influenza may last for more than 2 weeks.

(a) Runny Nose

You choose to bring Cetirizine tablets. Generally, for adults, 1 tablet is to be taken once a day. Total = 1 tablet x 14 days = 14 tablets (can be rounded up to 20 tablets – to purchase 1-2 boxes if each box has 10 tablets)

(b) Fever/Headache

You choose to bring Paracetamol tablets. Generally, for adults, 2 tablets are to be taken up to 4 times a day. Total = 2 tablets x 4 x 14 days = 112 tablets

2. When visiting countries where there may be a concern for stomach upset or diarrhoea (e.g. spicy food, unclean food), preparing an appropriate amount of medications may be enough.

(a) You will be staying in Thailand for 2 days

You choose to bring Loperamide capsules. Maximum of 8 capsules can be taken in a day. Total = 8 capsules x 2 days = 16 capsules

3. Chronic medications should also be calculated accordingly.

(a) You take 1 tablet of Amlodipine 5 mg once a day for high blood pressure. For a 5-day trip, you will need 1 tablet x 5 days = 5 tablets.

(b) You take 1 tablet of Metformin XR 500mg twice daily for diabetes. For a 8-day trip, you will need 2 tablets a day x 8 days = 16 tablets.

Ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice if you have doubts!

Where do I get my medications from?

Most of the medications used to manage minor ailments may be easily obtained over the counter or dispensed by a pharmacist.

Chronic medications must be obtained from a doctor at clinics/polyclinics/hospitals or from a pharmacist with a doctor’s prescription. Visit your doctor at least a few weeks before your departure to ensure that you have enough medication. You may also ask your doctor to prepare a copy of your medical history with a list of medications which you are taking for you to bring overseas.

How do I pack my medications for travel?

  • Pack your medications apart from your toiletries.
  • Carry all medications and supplies in their original containers or packaging.
  • Medications which are formulated as tablets or lozenges can be either hand-carried or checked-in.
  • If you would like to carry liquid medications into the aircraft, each bottle should only have a maximum volume of 100ml, and they should be placed inside a ziplock bag, whose volume in total cannot exceed 1L. If the medication bottles are larger than 100ml, you must pack them into a check-in luggage.
  • All inhalers may be hand-carried onto the aircraft.
  • Insulin preparations and devices used to inject the insulin (e.g. needles) should be hand-carried onto the aircraft. Upon arriving at airport security, you should declare to the officers that you have these items and allow these items to be passed through the necessary scans.
  • Bring a copy of your prescription or medication list to answer any questions from airport security regarding the contents of your medication.

How do I store my medications during travel?

Medications in general should be stored in a cool and dry place. Both the aircraft cabin and the luggage hold of the aircraft meet the criteria.

For insulin preparations, you may choose to store them inside a cooler bag to carry onto the aircraft. Most insulin preparations are usually stable at room temperature for around 4 weeks upon first opening, before being discarded. You may ask your pharmacist or doctor or refer to the product’s information leaflet for details.



This article is jointly developed by members of the National Medication Information workgroup. The workgroup consists of cluster partners (National Healthcare Group, National University Health System and SingHealth), community pharmacies (Guardian, Unity and Watsons) and Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore. The content does not reflect drug availability and supply information in pharmacies and healthcare institutions. You are advised to check with the respective institutions for such information.

The content above is solely for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or supplement, or adopting any treatment for a health problem.

Last updated on April 2024

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